House of Saud – The sacrifice of a major piece on the Middle Eastern chessboard

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Maxim Oreshkin, the deputy finance minister, said the country is drawing up plans based on a price band fluctuating between $40 to $60 as far out as 2022, a scenario that would have devastating implications for Opec

(Russia plans $40 a barrel oil for next seven years as Saudi showdown intensifies, Telegraph, 11 Dec 2015)

Such a scenario would be devastating (deadly?) for the Saudi economy, already battered by the disastrous military intervention in the Yemeni civil war (A Saudi Afghanistan – the chickens will come home to roost in Yemen).

Are the Saudi royals really willing to risk domestic instability only to keep the oil price down?
To what end?

Only to save the US economy from collapsing?

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Se uno dei più brillanti eredi della famiglia reale saudita è stato inviato in Russia a stringere buoni rapporti con Mosca forse è perché i sauditi non sono più disposti a sottostare alle imposizioni di Wall Street e del Pentagono?

Mosca sta facendo la voce grossa con turchi e sauditi per costringerli a schierarsi una volta per tutte?

Sotto sotto qualcuno DEVE aver sospettato che c’è qualcosa di stranissimo nel comportamento di turchi e sauditi: prima pappa e ciccia con Mosca (con multiple visite reciproce, investimenti ingenti anche in settori ultra-strategici) e poi ai ferri corti.

Forse i sauditi sono sotto ricatto? Sono costretti a suicidare la propria economia per sostenere quella americana e danneggiare quella russa?
Per quanto a lungo tollereranno questo stato di cose che li mette a rischio di ghigliottina?
E i turchi? L’establishment turco, messo alle strette da Mosca (o con noi o contro di noi) e con la costante minaccia del separatismo curdo (fomentato dai soliti noti: guardate le “principesse curde” della famiglia Barzani dove vanno a fare shopping e che tipo di celebrity-style hanno adottato), andrà fino in fondo? Fino alla jugoslavizzazione della Turchia?

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Gas wars in the Middle East

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A clash of the titans for the control of the European gas market, with Syria’s territory as the most practical route for a natural gas pipeline.
If the Iranian side wins, Southern Europe will get cheap gas and Greece will be able to apply gas transit charges and thus heal its wounds.

Iranian Renaissance

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On Tuesday, Reuters reported that Iran had been invited to the confab which will be held in Vienna on Thursday.  The announcement is bound to be ferociously criticized on Capital Hill, but it just shows to what extent Russia is currently setting the agenda. It was Lavrov who insisted that Iran be invited, and it was Kerry who reluctantly capitulated. Moscow is now in the drivers seat. And don’t be surprised if the summit produces some pretty shocking results too, like a dramatic 180 on Washington’s “Assad must go” demand.   As Putin has pointed out many times before, Assad’s not going anywhere.

Putin Makes Obama an Offer He Can’t Refuse, Counterpunch, 29 October 2015

There is no angst in the Iranian mind today. Its integration with the international community is well under way and the Iranian diplomats are savvy enough to develop synergy between the Syrian track and Tehran’s agenda to build up ties with Europe and America.

Iran returns to ‘Vienna Talks’ – as peacemaker, Asia Times, 29 October 2015

Russia now effectively operates a ‘no-fly zone’ over Syria, which strips Israel of access points to not only targets in Syria but also in Lebanon. Meanwhile, according to reports, Russia is dispatching to the Eastern Mediterranean a massive guided missile carrier, Moskva, equipped with an estimated sixty-four S-300 missile defence systems. All in all, the alignments in the regional politics have dramatically changed with the latest reversal in the US position signifying its willingness to sit with Iran to discuss Syria.

What it means to invite Iran to key Syria talks, Asia Times, 28 October 2015

Following the historic agreement in Vienna that could end the 12-year standoff over Iran’s nuclear programme, Iran has been for the first time invited to participate in international talks meant to put an end to Syria’s crisis. It is also likely that its bid to join the WTO once sanctions are lifted will be granted.
We are thus now having a return to multilateral diplomacy and, as a result, things are starting to move in a more cooperative and peaceful direction.

Anticipation is generally associated with such a new beginning.
Thus, it is hopefully auspicious that, on October 20-21 Roberto Poli, president of -skopìa and First UNESCO Chair in Anticipatory Systems at the University of Trento, Italy, has been invited by the Shakhes Pajouh Research Institute of the Isfahan University to teach a one-day workshop on the three levels of Futures Studies: Forecast, Foresight and Anticipation, followed by a half-day Q&A session.

This event was reported in a news broadcast by the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting.

A photo gallery from the event is available here.

Twilight of Empire: Inside the Crumbling Atlantic Bloc

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NATO expansion

The time has come to review the agreements concerning the U.S. bases [on Italian soil]. I do not think that Italy should continue to host on its territory, without much needed revisions, American military enclaves, as policy tools that are not always in our best interest.

Sergio Romano, A che cosa servono le basi americane in Italia, Corriere della Sera, 10 October 2015

Russian presidential envoy to Afghanistan and head of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Second Asia Department Zamir Kabulov told a Russian newspaper that Afghanistan’s first Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum has requested Moscow’s support to fight against ISIS insurgents.

Russia to Sell Modern Attack Helicopters to Afghanistan, the Diplomat, 9 October 2015

Baghdad intends to lean on Russia in the war on Islamic State after U.S.-led coalition airstrikes produced limited results. Russian military action in Iraq would deepen U.S. fears that it is losing more strategic ground to rivals in one of the world’s most critical regions.

Iraq leans toward Russia in war on Islamic State, Reuters, 7 October 2015

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that President Bashar al-Assad should be involved in any Syrian peace talks

Merkel: Assad must be included in Syria peace talks, Al Jazeera, 24 September 2015

I know from my conversations with (Russian President Vladimir) Putin that he (does not accept) phrases like when Barack Obama said Russia was a regional power. What does that mean? You can’t talk about Russia like that. We must, I say frankly, treat Russia properly. Russia should be treated as an equal.

The West must ‘treat Russia properly’: Juncker, Yahoo News, 8 October 2015

French President Francois Hollande has said that following recent ceasefire progress in Ukraine he hopes to see the end of sanctions against Russia.

Ukraine conflict: France hopes to end Russia sanctions, BBC, 7 September 2015

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France and Germany have both expressed reservations about the way in which the negotiations have been conducted on several occasions. Faced with increasing concern over the direction of the negotiations, Matthias Fekl announced that France would be prepared to abandon the whole process if it does not receive the concessions it wants. “If nothing changes, that will show that there is no willingness to ensure a mutually beneficial negotiation process,” he explained.

“France is examining all its options, including abandoning the negotiations all together,” Matthias Fekl said. This option may strike a chord with some other member states, as the European Commission has taken responsibility for the negotiations upon itself, leaving the 28 countries on the side-lines.

France threatens to pull out of TTIP negotiations, EurActiv, 29 September 2015

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The TPP does not include:

South Korea, nominal gross domestic product $1.4-trillion.

Indonesia, nominal GDP $900-billion.

Taiwan, nominal GDP $500-billion.

Thailand, nominal GDP $400-billion.

Colombia, nominal GDP $380-billion.

The Philippines, nominal GDP $330-billion.

 

China, nominal GDP $10.5-trillion.

Russia, nominal GDP $ 1.860-trillion.

 

A Biden-Warren ticket against the neocon march to World War III

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Wolfowitz Doctrine, 1992

Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union. This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power.

The U.S. must show the leadership necessary to establish and protect a new order that holds the promise of convincing potential competitors that they need not aspire to a greater role or pursue a more aggressive posture to protect their legitimate interests. In non-defense areas, we must account sufficiently for the interests of the advanced industrial nations to discourage them from challenging our leadership or seeking to overturn the established political and economic order. We must maintain the mechanism for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role.

In the Middle East and Southwest Asia, our overall objective is to remain the predominant outside power in the region and preserve U.S. and Western access to the region’s oil.

■ Zbigniew Brzezinski, How Jimmy Carter and I Started the Mujahideen, Counter Punch, 1998

According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise: Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.

■ Robert Dreyfuss Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam, 2005

The first complete account of America’s most dangerous foreign policy miscalculation: sixty years of support for Islamic fundamentalism

Devil’s Game is the gripping story of America’s misguided efforts, stretching across decades, to dominate the strategically vital Middle East by courting and cultivating Islamic fundamentalism. Among all the books about Islam, this is the first comprehensive inquiry into the touchiest issue: How and why did the United States encourage and finance the spread of radical political Islam?

■ Ian Johnson A Mosque in Munich: Nazis, the CIA, and the Rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in the West, 2010

In the wake of the news that the 9/11 hijackers had lived in Europe, journalist Ian Johnson wondered how such a radical group could sink roots into Western soil. Most accounts reached back twenty years, to U.S. support of Islamist fighters in Afghanistan. But Johnson dug deeper, to the start of the Cold War, uncovering the untold story of a group of ex-Soviet Muslims who had defected to Germany during World War II. There, they had been fashioned into a well-oiled anti-Soviet propaganda machine. As that war ended and the Cold War began, West German and U.S. intelligence agents vied for control of this influential group, and at the center of the covert tug of war was a quiet mosque in Munich—radical Islam’s first beachhead in the West.

■ Zbigniew Brzezinski

The Russian naval and air presences in Syria are vulnerable, isolated geographically from their homeland. They could be ‘disarmed’ if they persist in provoking the US.

Brzezinski: Obama should retaliate if Russia doesn’t stop attacking U.S. assets, Politico, 5 October 2015

■ Ashton Carter

Russia will pay price for Syrian airstrikes, says US defence secretary, Guardian, 8 October 2015

■ Carly Fiorina

Carly Fiorina endorses waterboarding ‘to get information that was necessary’, Guardian, 28 September 2015

Fiorina: ‘We must be prepared’ to use force on Russia, The Hill, 1 October 2015

■ Marco Rubio

Marco Rubio Would Risk War With Russia In Order To Enforce Safe Zone In Syria. What could go wrong? Huffington Post, 5 October 2015

■ Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton calls for no-fly zone in Syria, 1 October 2015

■ Joe Biden

Let me risk ridicule by mentioning the ruthless Vladimir Putin and the clueless Joe Biden in the same sentence: The emergence of Putin abroad and Biden at home could reshape the 2016 Republican presidential race…And if Republicans don’t win, we face the prospect of living in Vladimir Putin’s world and Joe Biden’s America.

William Kristol [co-founder of the Project for the New American Century with Robert Kagan], Putin, Biden, and the GOP, Weekly Standard, 5 October 2015

 

Keep them out, lock them up, bomb them all, or…

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If someone supported Nazi Germany at the expense of the United States, we didn’t say that was freedom of speech, we put him in a camp, they were prisoners of war. If these people are radicalized and they don’t support the United States and they are disloyal to the United States as a matter of principle, fine. It’s their right and it’s our right and obligation to segregate them from the normal community for the duration of the conflict.

Retired general and former Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark, Wesley Clark: “Disloyal Americans” should be tossed in internment camps for the “duration” of the war on terror, Salon, 20 July 2015

Corriere della Sera: What do you propose, then? To deport five million French Muslims?

Zemmour: I know it’s unrealistic, but history takes us by surprise. Who would have thought in 1940 that a million pieds-noirs, twenty years later, would have left Algeria to return to France? Or that, after the war. 5 or 6 million Germans would leave Central and Eastern Europe, where they had lived for centuries? I think we’re heading towards chaos. This situation of a population within another population, as Muslims are in relation to the French, will lead to chaos and civil war. Millions of people live here, in France, and don’t want to live like the French people.

Il successo di Zemmour, l’arrabbiato anti-élite «La Francia si è suicidata» Corriere della Sera, 30 ottobre 2014

It’s mommy Angela: pride, glory and honor of Europe, the future Nobel Peace Prize, the embodiment of a continent of moms who cannot put up with the picture of a dead child … Within hours, Angela Merkel took the monumental responsibility to permanently destroy a millennial Germany and turn it into a multicultural country. The announced 800,000 refugees will have children, millions of people will get on the move now that they see Germany as the nineteenth-century America. But who will eventually play the role of Indians?

Éric Zemmour’s on-air remarks on RTL, 10 September 2015

objectionable humor by Charlie Hebdo

Charlie Hebdo’s objectionable humor

There are currently over 9.5 million Syrian refugees: 6.5 million are internally displaced and the remaining three million have fled the country, mostly seeking refuge in Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan.

To this figure we must add five million stateless Palestinian refugees (since 1948), one million Afghan refugees in Iran (UNHCR, 2015), over 3 million internally displaced persons in Iraq and hundreds of thousands of North African refugees.

When, back in 2003, Jacques Chirac and Dominique de Villepin warned the world that the U.S. invasion of Iraq would open a Pandora’s box, few could foresee a catastrophe of these proportions, greatly exceeding the tragedy of Vietnamese boat people (Margaret Thatcher reluctant to give boat people refuge in Britain, Guardian, 30 December 2009).

A crisis that could have been resolved long ago (“Martti Ahtisaari said the failure to consider the Russian offer had led to a ‘self-made disaster’ with the huge flow of refugees” – West ‘ignored Russian offer in 2012 to have Syria’s Assad step aside’, Guardian, 15 September 2015), had the White House made different choices (How U.S. Interventionists Abetted the Rise of ISIS, Wall Street Journal, 27 August 2014), is now turning into a ticking time bomb.

Zemmour, a French celebrity journalist and essayist, like many other European demagogues, is sowing the seeds of hysteria among Europeans, amid fears of “refugee burden” and “new Barbaric invasions” (Zemmour choque en évoquant la déportation des musulmans, Europe 1, 17 décembre 2014; Marine Le Pen verrait bien Eric Zemmour comme son ministre de la Culture, BFMTV, 14 septembre 2015).

While Hungary, Saudi Arabia and Israel have built barbed wire fences, financial analysts are forecasting a worldwide “credit freeze” which, under these circumstances, could ignite massive social unrest across Europe.

This predicament could lead to self-isolating, violently xenophobic movements (Czech police haul migrants off trains to Germany and ‘write numbers on their arms in ink’, Independent, 2 September 2015; Far-right Czech politician recommends placing refugees in concentration camp, Jerusalem Post, 9 September 2015) and the continual erosion or even break-down of the European Union or, alternatively, to a wiser course of action (A 10-Point Plan to Solve Europe’s Refugee Crisis, Huffington Post, 26 August 2015).

Neo Nazi Svoboda leader Oleh Tyahnybok

Neo Nazi Svoboda leader Oleh Tyahnybok (Ukraine underplays role of far right in conflict, BBC, 13 December 2014)

A Saudi Afghanistan – the chickens will come home to roost in Yemen

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[I]f you think Iran is the only source of trouble in the Middle East, you must have slept through 9/11, when 15 of the 19 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia. Nothing has been more corrosive to the stability and modernization of the Arab world, and the Muslim world at large, than the billions and billions of dollars the Saudis have invested since the 1970s into wiping out the pluralism of Islam — the Sufi, moderate Sunni and Shiite versions — and imposing in its place the puritanical, anti-modern, anti-women, anti-Western, anti-pluralistic Wahhabi Salafist brand of Islam promoted by the Saudi religious establishment.

It is not an accident that several thousand Saudis have joined the Islamic State or that Arab Gulf charities have sent ISIS donations. It is because all these Sunni jihadist groups — ISIS, Al Qaeda, the Nusra Front — are the ideological offspring of the Wahhabism injected by Saudi Arabia into mosques and madrasas from Morocco to Pakistan to Indonesia.

And we, America, have never called them on that — because we’re addicted to their oil and addicts never tell the truth to their pushers.

Thomas L. Friedman, Our Radical Islamic BFF, Saudi Arabia, NYT, 2 September 2015

The Saudi ground invasion and blockade of Yemen, with no UN mandate, to install a leader of their choice, was a fatal mistake for the House of Saud.

Everything is going the wrong way (How Much Longer Can Saudi Arabia’s Economy Hold Out Against Cheap Oil? Bloomberg, 21 August 2015).
A string of humiliating military setbacks, Egypt and Pakistan refusing to get bogged down, international reactions generally negative:

What worries me is that the Saudi-led air campaign is quite brutal. It’s not like one of our modern air campaigns with the US or the UK, where we worry about civilian casualties. The Saudis, in many cases, seem to be deliberately causing civilian casualties and certainly are causing civilian suffering by knocking out power stations and other pieces of civilian infrastructure.

Michael Knights, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Saudi and UAE boots on the ground intensify the Yemen war, PRI, 12 August 2015

Killing hundreds of civilians and destroying the country’s infrastructures is not going to endear the local population to a puppet president.

There is a serious lack of political and military vision.

Worst of all (from the vantage point of the Saudi leadership), scores of Yemeni volunteers (Houthis represent 40% of the population) are joining the fight and will no doubt seek revenge by crossing the aggressors’ borders and spread their guerrilla warfare across the enemy’s territories.

Inflicting serious damage in Saudi Arabia could divide a Saudi establishment that has invested too much political and financial capital in this war, and even lead to ISIS inroads into the monarchy (‘Thank God for the Saudis’: ISIS, Iraq, and the Lessons of Blowback, The Atlantic, 23 June 2014).

One must keep in mind that the Wahabi doctrine allows for only one ruler: it is either the Saudi king or the Caliph.

Defeat looms large upon the coalition troops and, within a couple of years, we might well see a regime change in Riyadh and/or the break-up of the Saudi Kingdom.

A scenario in which a large number of Saudi citizens turn their back to the dictatorship and force the royals to flee the country and seek refuge in London or Paris is now far from unlikely.